To Live a Life of Passionate Purpose, Follow Your Curiosity

curiosity - neon sign says "this is the sign you've been looking for"

“I think we live in a society where passion is really fetishized. I always feel so bad for college graduates when they’re sitting there, sweating in their robes, and some estimable person is standing on stage saying, “JUST FOLLOW YOUR PASSION!” And, they’re sitting in the audience like, “I don’t even know what that is and if I have one. I’m 21; what am I supposed to do?” And I always just want to go there with a little editing pencil and just cross out the word “PASSION” and replace it with the word “CURIOSITY.” Just follow your curiosity. Trust your curiosity. If something is interesting to you, trust that it is interesting to you for a reason. That it is another breadcrumb on the amazing trail that will make your life yours and not anyone else’s. Curiosity above all.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

I think we can all relate to the feeling of wanting to find our “true” passion or purpose in life. Not only is it a gloriously romanticized concept in society, it’s simply basic human nature. We want to know our deeper “why” and to feel like our existence has meaning. And there’s nothing wrong with that! If anything, that’s the most beautiful endeavor we can ever pursue. It’s the overall theme we want to look back on our life with and the impact we want to leave.

However, there’s one basic ingredient that is necessary in leading us to this greater purpose.

Curiosity makes the world go round.

Passion is important, but I think we tend to forget about where it originates. Every passion you have right now was once just a small curiosity, a peaked interest in trying or learning something new. And if you haven’t found a specific passion in life, that gives you even more reason to continue following whatever interests you.

I think it’s important to realize that passion and purpose can be found in the smallest of moments. We tend to think we need to have giant epiphanies and gorgeous realizations that’ll keep us high on life forever. And some people are designed to have more of these than others! But you can live a life of passion and purpose without having a specific passion or purpose, and I think it’s important you always remember that.

You can live a life of passion and purpose without having a specific passion or purpose, and I think it's important you always remember that. Click To Tweet

Even Albert Einstein so humbly said, “I have no special talent; I am only passionately curious.” Einstein, guys. As we all know, he definitely had some special talents – but he attributed them to his curiosities that got him there. You don’t have to be a genius…you only need to be curious.

This post isn’t to trash-talk passion – but to remind you of where you’ll find it, time and time again. The journey of continually learning and growing can be a passion in itself. Regardless of how you feel with your life and its purpose, below are a few reasons you should start following your curiosity.

I have no special talent; I am only passionately curious. -Albert Einstein Click To Tweet

Curiosity doesn’t have to have a purpose.

First off, let go of the notion that you’re wasting time by aimlessly following the questions and interests that come to you. Between our human desire for it & society’s emphasis on it, we tend to feel like we need to be productive in everything we do. But really, “productive” can mean something different for everyone. For me, it’s productive to learn something new, even if just for the sake of learning. You may not gain a tangible “win” by spending hours or days exploring a random topic, but why does that need to matter? Einstein probably thought he was just daydreaming a lot of the time – but every little pondering thought led him to where he ended up, and the same can apply to you.

Curiosity broadens your horizons.

The world as you know it literally grows and deepens the more you follow your curiosity. And it can all start with something as simple as Googling your random questions. We all know how deep that rabbit hole of Google can go. As soon as you learn one thing, you think of something else you want to know. Yes, this can also just be a distraction, but it still broadens your understanding of life as you know it! And once you’ve explored the Internet enough, you can dive into hours of documentaries, books, and experiences. Both this universe and your mind know no bounds, and your curiosity is just the tool to open you up to that.

Both this universe and your mind know no bounds, and your curiosity is just the tool to open you up to that. Click To Tweet

You’ll lead a richer, fuller life.

The more diversity in your life, the more opportunities for different experiences you will have in that life. I absolutely love the metaphor Elizabeth Gilbert uses in this short clip to describe a life filled with curious ventures. She compares driven, passionate people to jackhammers, drilling in a very productive way but with a narrow focus. She compares other people to hummingbirds, moving from one flower to another, trying the different kinds, and leaving a little of themselves everywhere. Exploring many different interests introduces you to so many perspectives, interactions, and sides of yourself. Whether you’re a jackhammer that knows what it wants or a hummingbird who wants to try it all, follow and embrace that natural tendency to live your fullest life.

Curiosity can deepen your relationships.

Sometimes we’re so familiar with the people in our relationships that we forget how much there still is for us to learn about them. An excellent but heartbreaking example of this is in the Harry Potter books. When one of Harry’s closest allies dies, he actually starts learning more about him from other people. It sadly reminds him of how many times he missed out on the opportunity to get to know this person better. Why hadn’t he asked more questions? This is a perspective I try to remind myself of every now and then. It’s amazing the difference it makes in your interactions. Once you listen to your loved ones as if there’s more to learn (because there is), you suddenly have much richer conversations. Never forget this.

You may even discover more passions.

In the linked clip I shared above, Elizabeth Gilbert ends with saying, “If you can let go of passion and follow your curiosity, your curiosity might just lead you to your passion.” Some people feel that jumping from one venture to another is a waste of time, but I don’t believe this in the slightest. From the outside it can seem like a waste, but to me, it’s a relentless pursuit. One of these times, that new pursuit might just be your new greatest passion. And if it isn’t, you at least learned something new along the way. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

If you can let go of passion and follow your curiosity, your curiosity might just lead you to your passion. – Elizabeth Gilbert Click To Tweet

Every curiosity leads to you.

Whether it leads to nothing meaningful or leads to your next passion, every curiosity you follow adds to your life. Instead of pressuring yourself to feel like every moment needs to be productive towards your purpose, learn to stay open to what your mind is requesting. Like Elizabeth Gilbert said in the beginning quote, trust that when something is interesting to you, it’s interesting for a reason. Even if that reason is simply to be entertained, why not?

There are no guidelines for “how” to follow your curiosity, because you just do it. And only you know what interests you! As I shared in a similar blog post to this one, finding yourself is all up to you. Keep an open mind, take time to listen and feel the pull of curiosity on your soul, and go for it. Soon enough, your life will be fully decorated with knowledge and memories from all of your curious ventures. And before you know it, you’ll look around and realize you ended up exactly where you belonged all along.